• Review

  • November 21st, 2013 11.21.2013

    Perpendicular Picture: Marte Eknæs


    Two recent exhibitions in Michigan, both featuring artist Marte Eknæs, a Norwegian-born artist now living in Berlin, caught my attention. Having opened a solo show at the Susanne Hilberry Gallery, which just closed this November, Eknæs also followed with a collaborative installation with Nicolau Vergueiro this past October at What Pipeline, an artist run space in Detroit.

    The Hilberry exhibition, Perpendicular Picture, draws on everyday objects: a coat rack, for example, or a brush. In the pieces, Eknæs remixes and reimagines these domestic forms. In a sculpture entitled Elaboration, a garment rack is transformed; chrome tubes bridge together with neodymium magnets to cause a form shift. The rack’s width is essentially doubled – polished and shined, again doubling its size as you gaze at it. The form appears sculptural and timeless; this is paired with Eknæs’ use everyday objects to create models of well-known architectural structures. They could be seen as humorous reproductions – in a piece that references a well-known architectural work, Zaha Hadid’s Waterfront Water Park, a futuristic-looking bicycle helmet is instead used to represent a dome – where the scale shift of the model conflicts with the otherwise utilitarian objects. The four perpendicularly installed photographs, which are referenced in the title of the exhibition, are photographs by Eknæs taken at architectural construction sites of the billboards used to announce events to come. Beyond the billboards in the image, you can see the rubble and construction of the future site in progress.

    A simultaneous exhibition at What Pipeline, in Southwest Detroit, hosted a collaborative installation entitled Janitoria, a collaborative installation with Vergueiro, which similarly samples and appropriates forms of quotidian waste, and transform them into icons within a tableau. In this way, utilitarian forms gain iconic status. The exhibition does not descend into a kitsch context, as it easily could – instead, Eknæs and Vergueiro avoid this read, keeping the materials and their associations clean, and true to the original forms they came from. The exhibit’s namesake piece, Janitoria, is a custom-printed industrial mat of galvalum (basically fake galvanite steel) with a brush hovering in front of it as if suspended in motion.

    The trashcan is a common symbol used for both, transformed into a sculptural form but also serving as a framing device for the picture in the form of a trash bag. That piece, called Introvert Disposal, is found in converse at Perpendicular Picture, this time as Disposal (although it would be symmetrical to have the title be Extrovert Disposal). In the case of Janitoria, the can functions almost like a character in a story about consumption, mirrored and reflected in both spaces, as well is itself. Vergueiro’s collaboration with Eknæs shines here. By designing elements like the custom printed fabric for the garbage bag used in the can, it is both subtle and evocative, at once.

    What Pipeline, Janitoria, runs through November 23.